Hon. Claudette Tardif:
Honourable senators, the U15, an organization representing 15 of Canada’s leading universities, is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its founding this evening. I would like to take this opportunity to underscore the importance of university research in Canada.
According to Universities Canada, 84 per cent of Canadians believe that countries that do not invest in research will fall behind economically. Moreover, 86 per cent believe that the federal government should spend more on university research.
Finally, nearly 90 per cent of Canadians agree that investing in fundamental research is the best way to ensure that Canada is a leader in innovation for the long term. Unfortunately, when it comes to research intensity, Canada has fallen behind compared to its foreign counterparts.
At the request of the Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Fundamental Science Review advisory panel, composed of nine eminent Canadians, tabled in April its report entitled Investing in Canada’s Future: Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research. Led by David Naylor, a former President of the University of Toronto, the review panel held round table discussions in five cities, accepted 1,275 written submissions and engaged 230 researchers in consultations, producing a report of just under 250 pages on the state of basic science and scholarly inquiry in Canada.
Canada’s universities are calling for the government to commit to a significant increase in support for discovery research, a dedicated support fund for international research collaboration, and stable and predictable funding for the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The panel also suggested an overhaul of the system to make it more user-friendly and to encourage younger researchers who are trying to establish their careers in a fast-moving and competitive landscape.
I hope that the federal government will implement the excellent recommendations set out in this report and that it will continue to improve and enhance the system for allocating research funding. Thank you.